IT is indicative of the importance of post offices to local communities that Ministers like Rishi Sunak, Graham Stuart and Andrew Jones are devoting so much time to this issue when the Government is so preoccupied with Brexit.
The Richmond, Beverley and Harrogate MPs are not alone. York MP Rachael Maskell, a Shadow Minister, has also been at the forefront of the debate as the transfer of many Crown branches to nearby WH Smith stores continues to divide opinion.
And while the relocation of post offices to the longstanding high street chain have been welcomed by many because of the longer opening hours, others are fearful about access arrangements and the range of services on offer.
This issue is even more relevant after Santander announced another tranche of branch closures last week – Adam Bishop, Head of Branch Interactions, immediately wrote to customers and suggested that they could use their local post office for “everyday banking needs”.
Yet, while his letter appeared to precede the outcome of Santander’s supposed consultation, it does operate in the private sector while post offices are still a public service.
And while rural branches do remain particularly vulnerable to the changing dynamics of the rural economy, this does not excuse the decline of branches in those Yorkshire suburbs where the most perfunctory of services is available.
Rather than allowing empty space in shops to simply fester, Post Office Ltd should be looking at innovative ways to make use of its buildings – whether it be increasing the scope for parcel deliveries or welcoming charities and such like to hold coffee mornings or fundraising events. If not, it will be the last post for even more branches – and all those residents, and businesses, who do still depend on this still vital service.